It was ‘a simple instruction’ to the British people, said the Prime Minister: ‘You must stay at home.’
With that sombre televised address, shown on March 23, 2020 – two years ago last week – the country was plunged into its first national lockdown.
After weeks of surging Covid infections, and horrified by the staggering scale of hospitalisations and deaths in Spain and Italy, the Government had concluded there was no option but to issue an unprecedented order to curb the growing pandemic crisis. It was following the science, after all.
Doom-laden epidemiological models had pointed to a possible UK death toll of 250,000 within five months.
Efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ – to drive down infection numbers and protect the NHS – had not been enough, Government advisers had concluded.
Just a week earlier, on March 16, Boris Johnson had advised Britons to stop going to pubs and restaurants, to avoid non-essential travel and to work from home if they could.
Within days, schools were shut and those considered most vulnerable to the virus – pregnant women, the over-70s and people with serious health conditions – were advised not to go outside.
Read more: Why more and more experts say lockdown didn’t prevent people dying of ‘Covid’ – and call it a ‘monumental mistake on a global scale’. (1) Where were you all at the time? (2) It was not a ‘mistake’, it was cold calculated